Big Ups
Before a Million Universes


4.1
excellent

Review

by VheissuCrisis EMERITUS
March 13th, 2016 | 34 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A stylistic marriage borne from love, not convenience.

Imagine for a moment that Big Ups’ debut album Eighteen Hours of Static was a volatile teenager with a penchant for violent fits and outbursts. Further still, imagine that he finally plucked up the courage to go and talk to that quirky interesting girl he’d be admiring from afar for so long - Spiderland. To the surprise of many, Eighteen Hours of Static and Spiderland hit it off immediately. Fast forward a couple of years and the unconventional couple had a baby called Before a Million Universes - such a pretty name. As so often happens with genetics, the result of splicing musical DNA resulted in a perfect amalgamation of styles, bringing forth and showcasing the best of which both parents had to offer. Before a Million Universes inherited the fire from her father’s belly as well as her mother’s depth and idiosyncrasies, and she went on to demonstrate both with a maturity which belied her tender years.

Despite the winsome way in which I’ve made the Slint comparison here, the similarities absolutely hold true. It’s an easy connection to make, and it also helps to answer the question of who the band listened to while cramped on the bus, touring their first album. Thick slabs of bass hit you in the face just moments into album opener “Contain Myself,” and the spoken word vocals come garnished with an unmistakably Brian McMahan flavour. While they dissipate when the song lurches into punchier, more familiar territory, it’s a facet of the album which runs strongly throughout. They take precedence on many of the songs, usurping but thankfully not totally displacing the shouts of anguish which ruled supreme on their debut effort. The album is crammed full of mid-tempo efforts which pulsate with energy occasionally rather than entirely, and despite a minor misstep or two such as the tepid “Feathers of Yes” and forgettable album closer “Yawp,” it’s a formula which works brilliantly.

With that said, the album isn’t totally devoid of the furious romps which comprised their debut. Second track “Capitalized” sets a blistering pace which doesn’t abate throughout, and early release “National Parks” follows a similar formula with just a modicum more restraint during the verses. The former sees lead vocalist Joe Galarraga cynically attack capitalism and the unwelcome grasp which the 9 to 5 corporate world holds on many, all amidst a backdrop of heavily distorted guitars and typically powerful bass. It’s a theme which typified their debut but Galarraga tackles deeper issues here, such as how societal beliefs are formed and held, and how the opinions and thoughts of entire populations can be shaped and manipulated. “National Parks” may be more restrained than “Capitalized,” but it lacks none of the punch. Screams of “she’s all alone!” burst out from the subdued verses before quickly dissipating and allowing the spoken word to rule once more, affording the song a spastic energy which builds nicely towards the song’s conclusion.

The finest which Before a Million Universes has to offer is the brilliant “Meet Where We Are,” which marries both styles more effectively than anywhere else on the album. For three-quarters of its run time, it saunters alongside a bright, sleepy guitar line with Galarraga whispering softly alongside. His delivery falls somewhere between begrudging and indifferent, as if he’s been forced to tell you a story he’s not sure you deserve to hear, and which he’s confident you won’t fully appreciate once he’s finished telling you anyway. The song reaches a surprising boiling point after 3 and a half minutes, and it bubbles over quickly thanks to yet another impeccable bass line from the impressive Carlos Salguero. If you weren’t fully attentive to Galarraga’s story before you certainly are now, and your attention won’t deviate until the song reaches its satisfying end.

Before a Million Universes wears its influences, or perhaps more accurately influence, unapologetically on its sleeve. But while it does borrow heavily from the seminal Spiderland, thankfully it falls short of crude worship. Big Ups combine the elements in such a way that compliments their signature style without ever compromising their identity; Before a Million Universes will almost certainly be one of the most interesting punk releases of 2016 because of that.




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user ratings (112)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
VheissuCrisis
Emeritus
March 13th 2016


1368 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

First album of 2016 I've really enjoyed.

TheBarber
March 13th 2016


3574 Comments


Track you linked was pretty cool, am actually really curious to give a full listen and see how they develop their own sound on top of the slint worshipping

Digging: Mamaleek - Via Dolorosa

elephantREVOLUTION
March 13th 2016


2948 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

this album is great. definitely one of my favorites of the year

larrytheslug
March 13th 2016


1587 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Spiderland you say? :]



Good review.

LordePots
March 13th 2016


38130 Comments


worst band name of all time ever

Digging: Alyss - Motherland

tcat84
March 14th 2016


1141 Comments


says the guy who's digging a band called Funk Maf Punk Trash


LordePots
March 14th 2016


38130 Comments


¯\_(ツ)_/¯ sorry didnt mean to trigger you big guy

Killerhit
March 14th 2016


6007 Comments


you better chill out with that funk maf trash talk

VheissuCrisis
Emeritus
March 14th 2016


1368 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Band name is a bit naff. Thankfully the music isn't.

magicuba
March 14th 2016


1239 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

will dig, listened to the first release a couple of weeks ago and it was a very fresh record.

Digging: Pig Destroyer - Terrifyer

torts
March 14th 2016


4300 Comments


slint worship, nothing much else to it. goodgoodgood review tho

Rawmeeth38
March 14th 2016


1147 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

even if it is slint worship, it ain't bad. in fact it's a great effort.

TheBarber
March 14th 2016


3574 Comments


Jammed and I think these punks managed to carve their own fangs on this, dirty riffing right up the mind and sweetly sweet digging for me

TheBarber
March 14th 2016


3574 Comments


Double bump for awesomeness
Btw ppl looking for some more Slint influenced bands should check out the low-key earlier records of the freak folk band Cerberus Shoal, especially the really great And Farewell To Hightide

Wadlez
March 15th 2016


4913 Comments


First album I've jammed this year, purty good.

Captain3
March 15th 2016


66 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I like

Asdfp277
March 15th 2016


15788 Comments


what genre is this, the album cover is gorgeous

magicuba
March 16th 2016


1239 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

punk tending to either hardcore or Slint depending on the songs

Atari
Staff Reviewer
March 16th 2016


22695 Comments


dug the review man, i'll have to check this out

Digging: Langhorne Slim - Lost At Last, Vol 1

VheissuCrisis
Emeritus
March 16th 2016


1368 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers man, let me know if you dig



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